Innings Per Start Analysis: Late Bargains

On Monday, I started a dive into which pitchers owners might want to stay away from because the pitchers don’t go far into games, limiting their chances for that all-important Win. Today, I’m going to focus on those late picks who are talented and could immediately take on a full-inning workload.

Just for reminder, I’m targeting these pitchers who go longer into games because I expect the second Spring Training to be shorter than normal. Pitchers won’t be stretched out to start the season. Also, the games will be condensed with some starters in piggy-back situations as managers need to pull out all the stops to win games.

The following starters are in the top-300 in NFBC ADP and the stats are combined from the past three seasons.

Length of Starts
Name G GS IP IP/G Threw 90 Pitches 100 Pitches Reached 5 IP 5 IP/G 5 IP/GS 6 IP/GS Reached 6 IP ADP
Gerrit Cole 98 98 616 6.3 93 63 95 97% 97% 79% 77 6
Jacob deGrom 95 95 622 6.6 86 70 88 93% 93% 83% 79 7
Walker Buehler 62 53 329 5.3 41 16 48 77% 91% 60% 32 12
Max Scherzer 91 91 594 6.5 84 68 86 95% 95% 85% 77 16
Justin Verlander 101 101 643 6.4 95 72 96 95% 95% 81% 82 20
Jack Flaherty 67 66 369 5.5 41 23 53 79% 80% 48% 32 22
Shane Bieber 54 52 329 6.1 40 28 48 89% 92% 71% 37 26
Mike Clevinger 80 74 448 5.6 62 41 64 80% 86% 66% 49 27
Stephen Strasburg 83 83 514 6.2 75 52 75 90% 90% 76% 63 28
Chris Sale 84 84 520 6.2 73 54 73 87% 87% 70% 59 35
Clayton Kershaw 82 81 515 6.3 59 25 75 91% 93% 86% 70 37
Luis Castillo 78 78 450 5.8 54 35 68 87% 87% 56% 44 40
Blake Snell 78 78 417 5.3 50 34 60 77% 77% 50% 39 44
Patrick Corbin 99 98 592 6.0 81 41 88 89% 90% 70% 69 45
Chris Paddack 26 26 141 5.4 11 0 20 77% 77% 38% 10 49
Lucas Giolito 68 68 395 5.8 54 35 58 85% 85% 65% 44 50
Yu Darvish 70 70 405 5.8 49 24 57 81% 81% 59% 41 53
Charlie Morton 88 88 508 5.8 63 33 78 89% 89% 60% 53 54
Aaron Nola 94 94 583 6.2 78 47 87 93% 93% 71% 67 57
Zack Greinke 98 98 619 6.3 83 39 91 93% 93% 78% 76 61
Tyler Glasnow 72 36 234 3.3 13 4 23 32% 64% 36% 13 61
Jose Berrios 90 89 538 6.0 71 36 75 83% 84% 63% 56 75
Brandon Woodruff 49 34 207 4.2 24 6 24 49% 71% 44% 15 78
Trevor Bauer 94 92 565 6.0 82 75 78 83% 85% 68% 63 80
Sonny Gray 88 81 468 5.3 51 29 64 73% 79% 56% 45 95
Frankie Montas 52 27 193 3.7 16 4 23 44% 85% 67% 18 100
Corey Kluber 69 69 454 6.6 55 36 62 90% 90% 80% 55 101
Mike Soroka 34 34 200 5.9 16 5 28 82% 82% 65% 22 104
James Paxton 81 81 447 5.5 59 39 61 75% 75% 54% 44 119
Zack Wheeler 77 77 464 6.0 64 41 67 87% 87% 69% 53 120
Lance Lynn 97 95 551 5.7 80 58 83 86% 87% 58% 55 121
Dinelson Lamet 35 35 187 5.4 17 6 29 83% 83% 40% 14 122
Zac Gallen 15 15 80 5.3 12 5 13 87% 87% 33% 5 123
Julio Urias 45 13 107 2.4 3 0 6 13% 46% 15% 2 126
Madison Bumgarner 72 72 448 6.2 59 34 69 96% 96% 79% 57 130
Max Fried 56 39 225 4.0 16 4 31 55% 79% 38% 15 135
Eduardo Rodriguez 86 81 470 5.5 69 49 71 83% 88% 53% 43 137
Carlos Carrasco 87 74 472 5.4 55 33 63 72% 85% 66% 49 139
David Price 68 63 358 5.3 45 21 52 76% 83% 59% 37 139
Hyun-Jin Ryu 69 68 392 5.7 36 14 52 75% 76% 57% 39 146
Kyle Hendricks 87 87 516 5.9 56 22 75 86% 86% 57% 50 153
Robbie Ray 85 85 460 5.4 71 41 69 81% 81% 46% 39 158
Matthew Boyd 89 88 491 5.5 67 30 69 78% 78% 59% 52 158
Kenta Maeda 105 71 413 3.9 26 9 51 49% 72% 32% 23 162
Carlos Martinez 113 50 372 3.3 41 20 44 39% 88% 64% 32 167
Lance McCullers Jr. 47 44 247 5.3 34 10 32 68% 73% 50% 22 172
German Marquez 90 90 532 5.9 65 26 76 84% 84% 64% 58 176
Mike Minor 125 60 443 3.5 50 28 54 43% 90% 62% 37 177
Ian Kennedy 115 52 337 2.9 35 17 38 33% 73% 46% 24 182
Sean Manaea 61 61 349 5.7 34 13 52 85% 85% 57% 35 183
Jake Odorizzi 90 90 467 5.2 70 36 66 73% 73% 37% 33 185
Luis Severino 66 66 397 6.0 52 34 58 88% 88% 61% 40 194
Jose Urquidy 9 7 41 4.6 1 0 4 44% 57% 43% 3 195
Luke Weaver 55 47 261 4.7 30 10 33 60% 70% 38% 18 197
Andrew Heaney 53 53 297 5.6 35 14 43 81% 81% 51% 27 202
Mike Foltynewicz 81 80 454 5.6 57 36 64 79% 80% 51% 41 204
Marcus Stroman 84 84 488 5.8 64 29 66 79% 79% 57% 48 207
Masahiro Tanaka 89 88 516 5.8 47 23 71 80% 81% 63% 55 207
Dylan Bundy 89 89 503 5.7 70 30 73 82% 82% 54% 48 213
Joe Musgrove 89 65 395 4.4 28 9 51 57% 78% 55% 36 216
Joshua James 55 4 84 1.5 1 0 3 5% 75% 0% 0 221
Mitch Keller 11 11 48 4.4 8 0 6 55% 55% 9% 1 228
Adrian Houser 42 18 125 3.0 4 0 9 21% 50% 17% 3 229
Ryan Yarbrough 66 20 289 4.4 18 4 30 45% 80% 55% 16 234
Caleb Smith 53 46 249 4.7 27 17 34 64% 74% 39% 18 234
Anthony DeSclafani 52 52 282 5.4 19 5 39 75% 75% 38% 20 247
Joey Lucchesi 56 56 294 5.2 22 7 43 77% 77% 32% 18 248
Jon Gray 77 76 433 5.6 52 21 61 79% 80% 55% 42 248
Garrett Richards 25 25 113 4.5 8 4 14 56% 56% 20% 5 248
Chris Archer 84 84 469 5.6 67 40 70 83% 83% 58% 49 251
Aaron Civale 10 10 58 5.8 4 0 9 90% 90% 60% 6 252
Alex Wood 67 59 340 5.1 27 5 49 73% 83% 56% 33 252
Sandy Alcantara 46 38 240 5.2 32 10 34 74% 89% 58% 22 266
Michael Kopech 4 4 14 3.6 0 0 1 25% 25% 25% 1 270
Yonny Chirinos 44 25 223 5.1 12 5 30 68% 80% 44% 14 274
Rich Hill 63 62 327 5.2 33 7 49 78% 79% 45% 28 277
Dylan Cease 14 14 73 5.2 12 7 12 86% 86% 43% 6 278
Steven Matz 75 73 381 5.1 45 25 54 72% 74% 47% 34 283
Dallas Keuchel 76 76 463 6.1 62 33 70 92% 92% 70% 53 286
Miles Mikolas 64 64 385 6.0 44 13 58 91% 91% 66% 42 287
Dustin May 14 4 35 2.5 2 0 4 29% 100% 0% 0 295
Jordan Montgomery 37 36 187 5.0 17 5 25 68% 69% 39% 14 296
Cole Hamels 83 83 480 5.8 66 29 69 83% 83% 60% 50 297

Here are some starters who have the combination of talent and the ability to go long into each start.

  • Dallas Keuchel and Miles Mikolas: Both are late-round buys who will provide help with Wins and WHIP. Depending on the league’s depth, they could help with ERA and strikeouts (from innings pitched). They’re solid enough for owners to at least start them 75% of the time with little cost. Also, they make for perfect drops once other starters break out.
  • Aaron Civale: I was a Civale fan even before seeing his 90% rate for reaching five innings. While his 2.34 screams regression (4.61 xFIP and 4.74 SIERA), his pitch mix should limit solid contact. His sinker and change generate groundballs and the cutter, slider, and curve are popup pitches. Additionally, the cutter, slider, curve, and change all have swinging-strike rates over 12%.
  • Jon Gray and German Marquez: Both of their perceived value could skyrocket up if they don’t have to pitch in Coors. They’ve been able to throw fairly deep into games even when pitching half their games in thin air.
  • Dylan Bundy: I’ve been all-in with Bundy and now knowing he goes long into starts just makes me want him more. In Baltimore, he was pitching in a small park with no support so the potential talent was hidden. He’s starting to get some helium. I like how he adjusted mid-season to get more groundballs once the juiced ball was obviously in play with his HR/9 dropped from 2.0 to 1.1. He just needs to continue to keep the home runs in check with the Angels.
  • Mike Minor: Last season, Minor got back to a fulltime starter’s role and thrived. While some BABIP regression might be expected, the 2019 value (.287) matches his career value. The biggest reason for the turnaround was featuring his high-whiff change (16% SwStr%) instead of his slider (9% SwStr%). A decent pitcher who goes late into games, sign me up.
  • Kyle Hendricks: He just a great source for WHIP, ERA, and Wins. I expect his results will continue into 2020 especially since he can immediately go deep into games.
  • Eduardo Rodriguez: I see Rodriguez as a polarizing player with few experts expecting him to repeat his 2019 season. The holdback hasn’t been the results. They’ve been steady for three seasons. It’s the 203 IP which was a career-high by over 65 innings. The 26-year-old made 11 starts in 2017 and 19 in 2018 before going on the IL. With the shortened season, he should be useful. Also, over the past three seasons, he’s pitched the 36th most innings (470) ahead of Luis Castillo, Mike Clevinger, and Corey Kluber. I’m fine rostering Rodriguez.
  • Madison Bumgarner: Mad Bum has seen his declining strikeout rate drop him from the top starter tier. His 8.8 K/9 isn’t elite but when throwing over 200 innings, the strikeouts add up and he posted the 22nd highest total last season.

We hoped you liked reading Innings Per Start Analysis: Late Bargains by Jeff Zimmerman!

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Please note, comment areas are active for a much shorter span of time than I have available to do something reasonably quantitative or thorough; I had to take short cuts.

With so much uncertainty, wanted

(1) to identify high IP per start SPs that also offered a strong strikeout moat. I cross-referenced IP / GS in the 2019 starter leaderboard (arbitrary 100 IP min) by K-BB%. Also arbitrarily, I highlighted SPs in the top 3rd of K-BB%.
• To no surprise, almost ¾’s of the 24 SP with >6 IP / GS had a K-BB% in the top 3rd of SPs. Soroka and Minor are the most conspicuous absences.
• Another 17 SPs had at least 5.75 IP / start (but less than 6 IP / start). 65% (11) of these were not in the top third for K-BB%. Castillo, Flaherty, Morton, Sale, Boyd, and Darvish are the dual qualifiers.
• 21 SPs had at least 5.5 IP / start (but less than 5.75 IP / start). Four of these were in the top 33% for K-BB%: (Sonny) Gray, Pineda, German, and Woodruff are the dual qualifiers.

(2) Consider the possibility of play in FL and AZ. I haven’t searched for relevant park factors, but I am concerned that park dimensions, potentially limited foul ball territory, and climate factors will be challenging for pitchers. Especially in AZ, where the Diamondbacks had to install a humidor. To IP/GS and K-BB%, I also cross-referenced GB % and Hard Hit %. I highlighted GB% > 50%, and a second set of SPs in the range of 45% to 50% GB%. [37% of SPs qualify across both levels.] Similarly, I highlighted HH% in three ranges, 41.5%). Findings:
• IP/GS >6, and highlighted at any level in all of K-BB%, GB%, HH%: Strasburg (almost earned highest ratings in all categories), Greinke, Ryu, Corbin
• IP/GS between 5.5 and 6, and highlighted at any level in all of K-BB%, GB%, HH%: Morton, Darvish
• IP/GS between 5 and 5.5, and highlighted at any level in all of K-BB%, GB%, HH%: None
• IP/GS > 5.5, top 33% K-BB%, highlighted for one of K-BB% or GB%, and neither GB% or HH% in the bottom level: Cole, DeGrom, Scherzer, Marquez, Clevinger, Castillo, Sale, S Gray, Woodruff. Listed in order of highest IP / GS.
• IP/GS > 5.5, top 33% K-BB%, but in the bottom level in both GB% and HH%: Verlander, Bumgarner